Cyber feminism was coined in 1991-1992 in different parts of the world. Nancy Paterson wrote an article names “Cyberfeminism” while at the same time in Australia four girls started the Cyber Feminist Manifesto to add females and political consciousness into electronic documents and sites on the internet. These four girls took quite a radical view of feminism and how to inject it into the internet. (I will include the VNS Matrix cyberfeminst manifesto at the end of the post) During the same time period, according to Wikipedia, Sadie Plant also used the term cyber feminism to define the “feminizing influence of technology on western society and its inhabitants.” Sadie Plant seems to think of technology as inherently female and hence the term Cyberfemism.
By 1997 cyber feminist had a conference in Germany and drafted the “100 Anti-Theses of Cyber feminism” that leaves the term cyber feminism open and without classification. The conference wanted the term not be classified and without definition so that it is without limits. Some of the quotes are quite amusing as they define what cyber feminism is by stating what it is not. For example it is “not caffeine-free” or “is not error 101” this definition allows for a very wide open and changeable definition of Cyber feminism. This same lack of wanting to avoid being limited by definition has also perhaps been the reason this movement is somewhat stalled in the opinion of Alex Galloway. Galloway writes that without a clear goal, definition and leadership cyber feminisms promising future has not unfolded.
Technology has often thought to be ruled by men for men and Cyber feminism is a way of grasping onto technology for women also. It seems some, like Rosi Braidotti, view Cyber feminism as a way to bring joy and beauty into cyberspace. A cyberspace she inferred would be cold and ugly without cyber feminism.
Cyber feminism broadly discusses feminism that is discussed, portrayed or promoted in cyberspace. Cyber feminism is a marriage of technology and feminism it embraces technology and its ability to reach so many people quickly and efficiently. It is interesting that because not one school of feminist thought prevails in Cyber Feminism it allows for a free exchange of ideas in words and art. It is interesting that Cyber feminist are more about the delivery of the message in many ways rather than the message itself.
Technology is seen as a great equalizer and a way to reach people that may have not been reached before. Woman could have meetings, self-help groups, chat groups or discussion boards to help foster the strength of the feminist movement. Technology does not see your skin color, age, disabilities, looks, size, economics or your sex therefore we all can be part of Cyber Feminism movement. Cyber Feminism also points out the fact that women are not technophobic even if that is what was thought in the past.
Cyber feminism does not want to be classified or pigeonholed and I fully agree with that concept. I like the somewhat tongue in cheek attitude of many of the readings. The movement does not seem to take it self overly seriously. It also wants to fight the notion that women are not technologically minded or even techno geeks. I am defiantly a cyber feminist in the terms of working on bringing gender equality into the technology field. I consistently work towards helping women feel comfortable in this male dominated field.
I find myself drawn to the readings and look forward to delving more into this subject.
http://switch.sjsu.edu/web/v4n1/art_mez.html link to the VNS Matrix
VNS_Matrix, cyberfeminist manifesto for the 21st century. 1991: Adelaide.
Braidotti, Rosi. (1996). "Cyberfeminism with a difference".Women's Studies, University of Utrechtwww.let.ruu.nl/womens_studies/rosi/cyberfem.htm